How much will politics play in to who replaces Jim Letten? - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

How much will politics play in to who replaces Jim Letten?

U.S. Attorney Jim Letten U.S. Attorney Jim Letten

As the search begins for the person who will replace Jim Letten as U.S. Attorney, some wonder if politics will play a role in the selection process instead of just finding the best person for the job.

At the same time Thursday that U.S. Attorney Jim Letten announced he was going to resign, names of his potential replacements, were already being tossed around. But according to UNO political scientist Ed Chervenak, there is a very specific process that must be followed.

"Typically the senior senator from the state presents the administration with a short list of people that they think would be qualified for the position. Then, they'll be vetted by the Justice Department and then they'll submit a name to the president and then that individual will have to go before the senate and be confirmed," Chervenak explained. 

Mary Landrieu is the senior senator of Louisiana. Chervenak says even though Landrieu supported Jim Letten who is a Republican, he thinks this time around, the senator will select someone from her own party for the job.

"Given the fact she's a Democratic senator and submitting names to a Democratic administration and there's been some call to put a Democrat in that office," Chervenak said.

Landrieu has served as a U.S. Senator since 1997. She's next up for re-election in 2014. It's an election Chervenak says could be a close one for her. Which is where having a fellow Democrat serving as U.S. Attorney, could help her.

"She submits the short list, they get appointed. If they do a good job, it looks good for her," Chervenak explained.

But some in the city fear politics could play too big of a role in this decision, like criminologist John Penny.

"I think we need to have a process by where there's more input from the community," Penny said.

Penny says it's important for Letten's replacement to focus on cutting down crime and corruption. 

Senator Landrieu in a statement Thursday said she will find the most qualified individual for the post. Ed Chervenak thinks that person will most likely be a democrat.

And according to Chervenak there's no real time line on when Letten's replacement must be picked.

On Thursday, the Department of Justice named Dana Boente as Letten's interim replacement. Boente has served as First Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia since 2007.

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